Yesterday, Russia’s State Duma approved by 263 votes to three what it claims is a land code that includes the revisions called for by President Boris Yeltsin. (Reuters, April 22) Like its predecessor, however, this latest version of the code seeks to prevent the creation of a free land market in Russia. Yeltsin says he is committed to establishing such a market.
The land code was first adopted in July 1997 by both houses of the Russian parliament. Yeltsin vetoed it at that time on the grounds that it contradicted the constitutionally guaranteed right to private land ownership. The Duma overrode the presidential veto, but the Federation Council failed to muster the required two-thirds majority. A joint presidential-parliamentary commission was then set up to work out a text acceptable to both sides. The Duma claims that the text adopted yesterday takes the president’s proposals into account. Yeltsin is unlikely to agree. He may not, however, have to decide whether to sign yesterday’s version. The text now goes to the Federation Council, which includes such powerful advocates of private land ownership as the president of Tatarstan and the governors of Saratov and Samara Oblasts. The upper house is unlikely to approve the code in the form in which it was adopted yesterday.
HELICOPTER ACCOMPANYING STEPASHIN FIRED ON NEAR CHECHEN BORDER.